Monday, December 19, 2005

1915 Socially responsible investing

You can invest in "life" friendly funds. The December issue of Kiplinger's Personal Finance has an article on socially conservative investments that won't facilitate abortion, pornography or offer benefits to the partners of unmarried employees. There are four Ave Maria funds and four LKCM Aquinas funds which adhere to Roman Catholic teachings. The Ave Maria's screens eliminate about 400 of the stocks in the Russell. It's Catholic Values fund, AVEMX returned an annualized 20%, better than Standard & Poor's 500 stock index, and there is no sales charge.

The largest Aquinas growth fund, AQEGX, "follows the Catholic investing guidelines of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. Social screens include abortion, contraception, military weapons of mass destruction, gender and race discrimination, and affordable housing and credit. Other proactive screens include environment, pornography, violence in the media, firearms, tobacco, maquiladores, sweatshop labor, Northern Ireland." It returned 13% over the past three years and doesn't charge a sales commission. (I haven't found a good definition for maquiladores, but seems to be some sort of sewing workshop employing women.)

I want to live a good retirement, but not at the expense of someone else's lung cancer or abortion. Depending on your personal values, there are other funds that will screen for other issues, but I like to start with giving life a chance, because without that, rainforest coffee or decent housing doesn't mean much. I don't have money in mutual funds, but I always read through the annual reports from the stock companies in which we're invested for objectionable qualities. There was one that pandered to the worst "shopping instinct" in pre-adolescent girls that I dumped.

Amana Growth follows Islamic principles and is doing very well, with a return of an annualized 28%, beating the S&P 500 by 11 percentage points. AMAGX won't invest in companies that derives more than 5% of their revenues from alcohol, tobacco, pornography, gambling or the sale of pork products. Consistent with Islamic principles, the fund may not make investments which pay interest. In addition, investment decisions are approved by the North American Islamic Trust.

Except for annuities, I didn't find any investments that are specifically linked to Protestant faiths. Since they can't agree on baptism or communion, I doubt they could find 10 or 15 stocks to agree on that screen for values.

1 comment:

iso 9000 said...

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iso 9000`